Saudi Arabia charged yesterday that Israeli warplanes invaded Saudi airspace, and the United States quickly called on the two nations to exercise restraint.
The violation allegedly occurred yesterday about 130 miles from Israel's southern border and in the vicinity of Saudi Arabia's Tabuk military air base. A Saudi communique said the Israeli jets, it did not say how many, were driven back by Saudi fighters.
In Tel Aviv, Israeli spokesmen refused comment on the report.
Saudi Arabia sent a protest late in the day to Washington intended to be relayed to Israel, according to State Department sources.
Antagonism between the two Middle East countries, both of which are of crucial importance to the United States, has intensified following the U.S. sale of sophisticated radar planes to Saudi Arabia. Israel strongly opposed the sale.
The State Department said the United States had been in touch with both governments and expressed "hope that all parties would avoid any actions tending to raise tension in the area."
In Washington, White House deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said President Reagan was informed about 9:30 a.m. EST that Israeli jets had entered Saudi airspace and left "on their own accord."
Richard Burt, director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, said "We don't think there was any shooting" during the incident.
Israeli overflights of the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia are reported to be frequent occurrences.
There was speculation only about why the Saudis chose to announce the latest such flights, thus making them an international incident.